Janel Kopp Lab

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 This week we profile a recent publication in Gut from Dr. Janel Kopp (second from left)
and Alex Lee (middle) at the University of British Columbia.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

My laboratory is focused on understanding how the cell types in the pancreas are generated during development from multipotent pancreatic progenitors and how these cell types respond to tumour inducing mutations. We are primarily interested in whether the cell type the tumour initiates from affects the phenotype of the resulting tumour to create heterogeneity in pancreatic cancer.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Our recently published manuscript directly addresses the question of whether pancreatic ductal or acinar cells, possessing the same genetic changes without any additive treatments, can give rise to pancreatic cancers with distinct phenotypes. We find that ductal-cell-derived tumours arise earlier than acinar-cell-derived tumours. Furthermore, acinar- cell-derived pancreatic tumors are associated with low-grade precancerous lesions. Interestingly, the acinar-cell-derived tumours often possess the mucinous phenotype typical of the low-grade precancerous lesions, whereas ductal cell derived tumours do not.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are currently doing a more in-depth analysis of the tumors arising from different cell types to identify methods of recognizing de novo ductal- or acinar-cell-derived pancreatic cancers.

This research was funded by:

We were funded by the National Institutes of Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation, Pancreas Centre BC, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Read the Publication